Three pro-Velasco solons booted from chairmanships

Published October 6, 2020, 7:01 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Three committee chairmen were replaced by the House leadership Tuesday afternoon in what can be described as part of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s continued offensive against rival Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

Removed from their posts were AAMBIS-OWA Party-List Rep. Sharon Garin, erstwhile chairperson of the Committee on Economic Affairs; Quezon 4th district Rep. Angelina Tan, of the Committee on Health; and Valenzuela City 2nd district Rep. Eric Martinez, of the Committee on Youth and Sports.

All three are identified with Velasco, who was supposed to take over the Speakership from Cayetano on October 14.

Replacing the posts vacated by Garin, Tan, and Martinez were Aklan 2nd district Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr., Guimaras lone district Rep. Lucille Nava, and Manila 3rd district Rep. Yul Servo, respectively.

Deputy Majority Leader, Camiguin lone district Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo announced the rigodon through separate motions during a lull in the plenary debates on the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.

The camps of Cayetano and Velasco have been trading barbs since last week after the two Speakership rivals were called to a meeting by Malacañang by President Duterte last September 29.

But the high-stakes meeting apparently didn’t resolve anything–two days later, 1-PACMAN Party-List Rep. Mikee Romero, a Velasco backer, was removed as a deputy speaker. Romero is the president of the Party-List Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI).

“Removing Mikee as deputy speaker, who is our president, no less, is an affront to our coalition and an insult to everything we have worked for as a bloc. This is not the statement of PCFI but mine alone, as one of the many who originally fought hard and long to give party list representation in Congress integrity and strength,” Garin said last Friday. Now, the economist-congresswoman follows in his footsteps.

Cayetano, in a speech shortly after Romualdo’s pronouncements, told his House colleagues that they can still keep their chairmanships even if they didn’t vote for him as Speaker at the start of the 18th Congress in July 2019.

“Let me assure you–for as long as you can work with us with the budget, you can keep your posts,” he said.

House leadership posts such as committee chairmanships and deputy speakers’ seats are chosen based on the Speaker’s preference, although distribution among political parties is also a key consideration.

Romualdo on Tuesday also moved for the creation of the. Special Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts. Pangasinan 4th district Rep. Christopher de Venecia was designated chairman of this new panel.